In an op-ed featured on TIME.com, transgender activists Avi Cummings and Dean Spade call for women's colleges to end the discriminatory practice of refusing to consider applications from transgender women. Cummings and Spade, who graduated from Smith College and Barnard College respectively, cite the case of Calliope Wong, a transgender woman of color whose application was refused by Smith College, simply because not all of her documents matched her gender identity.
Many students at Smith responded to the incident in support of admitting trans women students, and GLAAD worked with Calliope and the student group Smith Q&A to help bring media attention to an ongoing campaign calling for the school to change its practices.
Yet Smith is not the only women's college excluding trans women, a practice that Cummings and Spade puts these institutions on the wrong side of history.
By effectively saying “no,” women’s colleges are endorsing and strengthening a concept at the root of transphobia: the belief that trans people are not who we say we are. Whether written into policies or informally practiced, this fundamental denial of trans people’s identities leads directly to our communities being disproportionately turned away from education, healthcare, housing and jobs, and disproportionately profiled by the police and immigration authorities.
This is not a call to end women’s colleges, but to bring their policies in line with their feminist missions. Activists at women’s colleges have pushed their institutions to admit, support and affirm students who have historically been excluded from women’s colleges, particularly women of color, poor women, women with disabilities and now trans women. Those who believe in the feminist missions of women’s colleges must continue to work to fight such exclusions and recognize that trans people must be welcomed at women’s colleges.
GLAAD worked with Cummings and Spade to bring this important op-ed to TIME.com. Read the full piece here.